Flagging economy hampers the Super Bowl party scene

Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:34pm EST
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By Robert Green

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - The U.S. economic downturn is putting a damper on the lavish party scene that has become an annual rite of passage during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

There will still be plenty of hype leading up to the February 1 affair between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa but it may be little tame compared to other years.

The week before the game has been known for a myriad of private and public parties in the host city, many hosted by celebrities. A large number of corporations also entertain big clients before and during the game.

This year, however, several corporate sponsors including Sports Illustrated and Playboy magazines have canceled their parties and others are cutting back in the face of a deep recession and rising unemployment.

A study by audit and consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers released this week estimated direct spending for this year's Super Bowl would be $150 million, about $50 million less than was spent in Phoenix and Miami, sites of the last two games.

"Based on the number of this year's Super Bowl related events which have been canceled or where cutbacks have been announced, it is clear that businesses have found it difficult to ignore their more immediate operating uncertainties and investor demands -- even at the expense of one of America's most popular events," Robert Canton of PWC said in a statement.

Amanda Holt of the Tampa Super Bowl host committee countered that the Tampa area should get a $300 million economic boost when direct and indirect spending for their fourth hosting of the game is combined.

"This is huge economic boost for the area," Holt said.   Continued...

<p>Fans wait for the start of Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>